Protests Continue in Bucharest Against Goldmine Plan in Rosia Montana

5 Sep

By Grace Wong / The Guardian

Romanians protesting in capital Bucharest

Romanians protest in capital Bucharest against the government’s support for a plan to open Europe’s biggest opencast goldmine in Rosia Montana. Photograph: Cristian Vasile / Save Rosia Montana Campaign

About 1,000 people gathered in Bucharest on Tuesday night for a third day of protests against plans for Europe‘s biggest opencast goldmine.

Thousands of citizens first took to the streets on Sunday, in cities across the country, spurred by the Romanian government’s recent draft bill to allow Canadian company, Gabriel Resources, to mine gold and silver at the Carpathian town, Rosia Montana.

Campaigners have criticised the “special national interest” status the bill would give the mine, which would allow the Romanian branch of Gabriel Resources, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, to move the few remaining landowners off the site through compulsory purchase orders.

Oana Mondoc, 26, a London-based campaigner, organised and took part in a Sunday solidarity protest at the Romanian Embassy in London, attracting a reported 150 to 200 Romanians and environmental activists.

Map of the 'golden quadrilateral'

Map of the ‘golden quadrilateral’

She said: “It is the symbolic fight of our generation. It’s one of the biggest things happening at home and we found out through Facebook and Twitter. Romanians are not known to protest and to question, so the turn out back home was huge.

“Our government has used its position to exploit and not care for its citizens. This is not an issue the majority of people agree with. A private company is being given power in a way that is unheard of through a private contract between the state and this company.

“People will continue protesting until there is a clear indication that parliament votes against this and makes such mines illegal.”

Mihnea Blidariu, 34, a Save Rosia Montana campaigner and musician, has attended all three protests and described protesters blocking streets, drumming, singing and organising street sit-ins. He said workshops and debates have been planned alongside a global day of protests on 8 September.

Jari Natunen, a Finnish biochemist, has condemned the plans for the mine, likening it to similar schemes carried out by Finnish miningcompany, Talvivaara, which has left a legacy of water polluted with uranium and metals.

Supporters of the mine, which has been stalled for 14 years, include President Traian Basescu Basescu and prime minister Victor Ponta, who have said the project will bring jobs to the region and billions of Euros in tax.

The bill is due to be debated in the Romanian parliament within the next two weeks, even as protests continue.

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